US says ready to move forward on n-deal with India

July 23rd, 2008 - 2:47 am ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
Washington, July 23 (DPA) The US pledged Tuesday to move forward on the nuclear cooperation deal with India after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh won a vote of confidence. Singh’s survival in the 275-256 parliamentary vote was essential for the deal that will allow the US to provide nuclear material to India for civilian energy reactors.

“It’s good for India because it would help provide them a source for energy that they need, one that is non-polluting and one that doesn’t emit greenhouse gas emissions,” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

“We think that we can move forward with this,” Perino added.

President George W. Bush and Singh signed the deal in 2006 and the two countries spent more than a year working through difficult negotiations to implement it.

The deal was bogged down after minority parties in Singh’s coalition protested terms that require India to open its civilian nuclear sites to UN inspections for the first time ever. They also argued the agreement amounted to a compromise of India’s national sovereignty.

The US Congress must also approve the deal to exempt India from laws that prohibit the transfer of atomic technology to countries who have not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The Bush administration had warned that time was running out on the congressional calender this year and urged India’s politicians to resolve the dispute over the agreement.

India must still work out an agreement with the Vienna-based UN nuclear watchdog known as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to develop a protocol for inspections and to safeguard nuclear material.

The political turmoil in India over the agreement had nearly wiped out what is seen as the cornerstone of blossoming US-Indian ties after decades of chilly relations during the Cold War.

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